Country legend Dolly Parton brings her most personal song, "Coat of Many Colors," to TV

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04 December 2015

NBC, Thurs., Dec. 10, 9:00 PM ET
By Lori Acken

Of the thousands of songs Dolly Parton has penned, the entertainment legend calls 1971’s “Coat of Many Colors” her favorite. On Thurs., Dec. 10,  NBC brings the tender tune of a family’s love and resilience, personified by a little homemade patchwork jacket, to television as part of a deal with Parton to produce films based on her most enduring hits.

“Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors” — which stars Ricky Schroder and Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles as Parton’s parents Robert Lee and Avie Lee, and sparkling 8-year-old Alyvia Alyn Lind as a young Dolly — dramatizes Parton’s true-life tale of growing up in a dirt-poor but unfailingly loving and creative home.

Parton calls the movie her gift to viewers in the most faith- and family-centric time of the year.

“I’ve had so many people tell me that [the song] has touched them, even though it might not have been about a coat or a piece of clothing, but a handicap or being overweight or just being different,” she says of the song’s lasting impact. “They teach this little ‘Coat of Many Colors’ in so many schools now and use it as an anti-bullying song — that we should celebrate the differences in each other. And I really wanted to pay tribute to my mom and dad and to show who the family was that I came from.”

And what a family it is — one Parton credits with her own ability to bloom where she’s planted.

“Mom had a house full of kids and a love for my daddy that wouldn’t quit,” she says. “They married when Mama was 15 and Daddy was 17. They had nothing to work with except love and faith and one another — and Mama had enough faith to move a mountain. I got my spirituality and my positive attitude and my faith from my mother. And I’ve got my dad’s hard work ethic.”

Understandably, Parton was careful about choosing the people who play them. Of Nettles, she trills, “She actually did her own little audition tape and sent it in to us, and I said, ‘Oh my God, that’s Mama!’ She’s spectacular! And Ricky, he looks like my brothers and my daddy’s people — his coloring, and just his body structure.”

As for little Lind, Dolly says it was a match made in heaven.

“We auditioned hundreds of kids and I said, ‘God’s going to send her. We’re going to get the right one!’” she recalls. “The day I saw her, I said, ‘That’s her! I see her! I see me!’ The second our eyes met, I knew that we were right!”

Photos by Quantrell Colbert / NBC

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